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What is an Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing at the DMV?
Few California drivers are aware that within the walls of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), there is an enormously powerful enforcement branch known as the Division of Driver Safety. The Division of Driver Safety is empowered with the nearly unbridled power to review or examine any driver in the state to determine their fitness to drive. Whether an accused driver has developed a questionable medical condition or they simply have accumulated too many moving violations, they are subject to the review and scrutiny of the Division of Driver Safety.
With very few exceptions, all drivers are entitled to an administrative hearing before the Division of Driver Safety if their driver license is in jeopardy of being suspended or revoked. The DMV conducts a host of administrative hearings such as “Re-Examination Hearings, Negligent Operator Hearings, or Financial Responsibility Hearings.”
Without question, the most common and the most challenging administrative hearing conducted by the Division of Driver Safety, occurs when a driver has been arrested for DUI. Following an arrest for DUI, the accused driver is thrust into the world of the DMV. Depending upon a varying set of factors, the DMV will seek to suspend or revoke a person’s driving privilege from 1 month to 3 years. The only way that an accused driver can fight the suspension or revocation of their driver license is through an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing.
APS Hearings are the single most difficult administrative hearing to win. The law and the rules of procedure all favor the DMV, but make no mistake these hearings can be won, and a DMV Defense Expert is best equipped to make that happen.
What are the Steps to Our Defense at Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearings?
Conducting and winning an APS hearing before the California Department of Motor Vehicles can be a complicated and frustrating event for just about everyone. Very few California drivers have the skill, training or experience to win an APS hearing. These hearings are much, much, more than sitting down and having a friendly chat with the hearing officer.
If your driving privilege is critical to your future, you must not travel this road alone. A winning defense at an APS hearing requires the ability to object to exhibits, introduce evidence, and be prepared to examine and cross-examine witnesses. In fact, a proper APS hearing looks very much like a “mini trial.” It requires that your DMV Defense Expert be fully trained and experienced in Administrative Law, the Vehicle Code, the Evidence Code, and the California Code of Procedures. California Law permits every driver to defend themselves at an APS. Going it alone, however, is often futile. The issues are too complex and the rules of procedure are too restrictive. The DMV hearing officer is allowed to presume that you are guilty and that the suspension or revocation of your driver license is warranted. Before you even walk in the door, the hearing officer assumes that he will be suspending your license………..period!
California Drivers Advocates (CDA) is a group of Administrative Law Specialists, Private Investigators, Former Police Officers, Former DMV Hearing Officers, and Scientists all devoted to protecting California Drivers at administrative hearings before the California DMV.
Our defense at an Administrative Per Se hearing is basically comprised of four steps:Investigation, Preparation, Presentation & Follow-Thru.
These steps may seem simple and almost self-evident, but all four rely upon each other and must be presented equally to “cover the bases.” Sticking to our game plan religiously provides you the best chance of victory. You would be astonished how many licensed attorneys have no clue how to properly conduct an APS hearing. Our DMV Defense Experts have been fighting and winning APS for years and understand the critical importance of each and every stage of our process. Because the APS hearing process is so slanted to the benefit of the DMV, we cannot guarantee that we’ll win your APS hearing. No one can make such a guarantee; however, we can guarantee that our process works. It works often and it will give you the best opportunity to protect your driving privilege. Don’t let the DMV steal your driving privilege without a fight. Give us a call today!
Our representation begins with a simple telephone call. During our initial conversation with you, we will assess your case, explain the DMV process and discuss our legal fees. The moment you engage our services, we immediately contact the Driver Safety Office to schedule your APS hearing and to request a “Stay” of suspension. Because quality DMV Defense can take months to develop, a timely request for a Stay of Suspension means that you may continue driving while your case is developing. Provided you have engaged us within the first 10-days following your arrest, getting the Stay of Suspension is virtually guaranteed. By taking this immediate action you are able maintain your driving freedom and to prevent an increase in insurance rates while we take the time to properly prepare to win your APS hearing.
Once your APS hearing has been scheduled and your driving privilege has been extended, we immediately enter stage one of our process……….. The “Investigation Stage.”
The investigation Stage begins with a thorough and comprehensive interview with you. The “intake interview” is a full-on investigative interview that takes 1 to 2 hours. It is critical that we fully understand who you are and what brought you to the DMV’s attention. Your driving history, criminal history, work history, medical history and other pertinent facts are all a “jumping off” point to begin our case. A thorough and probative examination of the events leading up to your contact with the police; thorough examinations of the officer’s investigation, arrest and collection of chemical samples are all keys to success. As painful as this may be to discuss, it is really the basis for our defense.
Part of our process includes filing formal requests for “Discovery” with the DMV. This compels the DMV to provide us copies of any information or evidence they intend to present at the APS hearing. Most often this includes sworn reports (DS-367), traffic collision reports, arrest reports, laboratory analysis reports, witness statements, your driving record and any other information the DMV will use to justify the suspension or revocation of your driver license.
We cannot over-emphasize the importance of the investigation stage. It is critical because we simply cannot afford to be surprised or caught unaware at the APS hearing. If a lack of investigation causes a driver to be caught off guard by a piece of evidence they weren’t prepared for, it can be disastrous. Your DMV Defense Expert from CDA will not allow this to happen. You’re our client and our obligation is to ensure we’re ready for everything.
After years in the trenches, we have learned that Stage 2, the “Preparation Stage” is the most critical in our four-stage process. The complete preparation of an APS hearing will literally make the difference between winning and losing. Simply put, the goal of the Preparation Stage is to draw on our years of training and experience to anticipate every possible question the DMV hearing officer will pose. We must anticipate every possible angle they will play to demonstrate that you legally contacted, legally arrested, and were driving with an excessive blood/alcohol concentration.
Our preparation stage may include:
- Of course, we always make a formal request for Discovery to force the DMV to provide us copies of everything they intend to use as evidence. Unfortunately, the DMV Discovery is often lacking or missing important elements so a simply request for Discovery is not sufficient to anticipate the Hearing Officer’s questions and strategy. We regularly issue our own subpoenas for dash-cam audio or video footage. Many police agencies are now using “body cameras” that more effectively record the police contact with our clients. Dispatch records and 911 audio recordings can establish exact time elements and information that officers were given when responding to calls for service. Calibration, maintenance and performance records on breath devices or gas chromatographs can reveal problems with chemical testing. We can also subpoena any other documentary evidence that tends to rebut the DMV’s evidence or establishes the truth in your case.
- A complete review of your driving record is critical. The DMV will often use one’s driving record to establish a history or poor or negligent operation. We often find that the DMV driving record will include stale or incorrect information.
- We may interview family, friends, neighbors, or anyone who may possess relevant information regarding the events leading up to your arrest.
- We may employ the services of a Forensic Alcohol Expert to rebut the DMV’s presumption of their blood or breath test.
- We will prepare and properly serve the DMV with “Notices of Affirmative Evidence” in accordance with the Government Code to ensure that our items of evidence are accepted at the APS hearing. Evidence is pointless if it is not accepted and considered.
- In some instances, the best defense of your case includes your testimony at the APS hearing. There are some risks in such a move, so this should be carefully considered. If the decision is made to have you testify it is critically important to prepare you for examination and cross-examination. You simply can’t afford to fall apart in front of the hearing officer or to testify so poorly that you are not found credible.
Each one of these items must be considered and prepared for to ensure that we have properly anticipated and planned to address the hearing officer’s every move. If you leave any rock unturned that is the one the hearing officer will use to beat you.
By the time we appear at your APS hearing, we have completely investigated and prepared for your hearing. We have already put the DMV on notice that we intend to introduce affirmative evidence. We have studied, researched, and analyzed your case from every angle possible. We are ready to object to the hearing officer’s exhibits and we’re ready to introduce our own evidence. Essentially, we are 100% ready to slay the dragon. If necessary, you stand ready to provide credible testimony to save your driving privilege.
The presentation stage is where you finally come to appreciate the value of your DMV Defense Expert from CDA. Entering your APS hearing you will feel that we are completely prepared. You’ll recognize and that the hearing officer knows and respects us. Something like that is only earned over time.
APS hearings are not conducted in an open courtroom or in front of a throng of people. The APS hearings are conducted in the private office of the assigned hearing officer. Usually, the only people present during a hearing are the DMV Hearing Officer and your DMV Defense Expert. If you are to testify, you will present. Occasionally, there will also be witnesses, police officers, or experts who are being examined or cross examined.
The DMV hearing officer will always audio record the event and your DMV Expert is entitled to make his own recording. The hearing officer opens the hearing by introducing all persons present and then will administer an oath to each as all testimony is taken under oath. At that point, the Hearing Officer will introduce their case, their evidence, and their witnesses.
Once the DMV has presented its case, it is time for your DMV Defense Expert to shine. We introduce our own evidence and witnesses designed to rebut or disprove the DMV’s allegation. You may be called upon to authenticate or “verify” items of evidence being introduced on your behalf. You may be called upon to testify and to be cross-examined by the DMV hearing officer, but have no fear as you have already been completely prepared for this event.
When all evidence and testimony has been presented at your APS hearing, it is then time for your DMV Defense Expert to wrap everything up with a closing argument. It is common for there to be many pieces of evidence to consider and much testimony to review. In closing, your CDA Expert will bring everything into focus and clarify your case. We close with an argument that drives everything home.
Finally, when the hearing ends, your DMV Defense Expert will conclude his argument and submit the case to the hearing officer.
When an APS hearing concludes, it is common for the hearing officer to announce his or her intention to take the matter under submission and to render a final decision at a future date. It is quite rare for a hearing officer to announce a final decision on the spot. Although many hearing officers may “hint” as to what they are thinking, most will render a decision in writing within about 10 to 15 days (This may take longer depending upon workload at the DMV).
When the hearing officer provides their final decision in writing, it is mailed both to the driver and to CDA. Once we receive the final decision, our obligation to you is far from over. We will remain active and vigilante in assisting you through whatever “post hearing” issues may arise. If we have won the hearing, we’ll guide you through getting your driver license returned. If we lose the hearing, we’ll guide you toward the quickest reinstatement of your driving privilege. We don’t stop fighting for you until you have fallen completely off of the DMV’s radar.
Our follow-thru may include “post hearing” contact with the DMV hearing officer. It may include us contacting the DMV’s legal department in Sacramento to ensure proper updating of your driving record. If the DMV requires that you provide an SR-22 Insurance Form or attend a DUI school, your DMV Defense Expert from CDA will be ready to refer you to a number of professional providers and schools. Finally, if you have questions for weeks or even months after the hearing, we will not fail you. We remain available to assist you and guide you as you move forward.
Call US Now to Administrative Per Se Hearing
If the DMV is working to suspend or revoke your driver license after an arrest for DUI, you must act quickly. Following an arrest for DUI you only have 10-days to contact the DMV to schedule an APS hearing; otherwise the suspension/revocation of your driver license is automatic. With the clock ticking, you don’t have any time to waste.
Decisions and actions in the early stages of your case can ultimately affect the outcome of your matter months later. Make the right decisions now………Call CDA. The DMV Experts at CDA have conducted literally hundreds of Administrative Hearings and have won scores of APS hearings throughout the State of California. We win these hearings because we do the job correctly. We follow our 4-step process because it works. Most importantly, we treat our clients with respect and empathy. Call us now; we’re ready to fight for you.